Hayeren Khosink… Yev Krenk

Team Keghart Editorial, 22 December 2009

By the time Sayat Nova began composing his songs in the second half of the 18th century, the Armenian language—its Eastern and Western branches—had become an incomprehensible mishmash of Persian, Turkish, Arabic, and any number of other languages of the region. For that reason, to this day, most Armenians would have difficulty comprehending the lyrics of 18th-century "Armenian" songs.

Team Keghart Editorial, 22 December 2009

By the time Sayat Nova began composing his songs in the second half of the 18th century, the Armenian language—its Eastern and Western branches—had become an incomprehensible mishmash of Persian, Turkish, Arabic, and any number of other languages of the region. For that reason, to this day, most Armenians would have difficulty comprehending the lyrics of 18th-century "Armenian" songs.

Early in the 19th century dedicated Armenologists, writers, and teachers launched their sacred task to “clean” our language. Whenever possible, non-Armenian words were replaced by Armenian words, and in the absence of an Armenian equivalent, new words were coined. We owe modern Armenian—the Eastern and Western versions–to the devotion and expertise of these 19th century patriots.

No language is “pure”. Our own language has multiple links to other Indo-European languages. We know that a great many Armenian words derive from Iranian because the Medes, the Pahlavis, and the Persians occupied our homeland. Foreign borrowings can enrich a language, as can be seen in English—the only global language. However, there has to be a demarcation line when a language starts to lose its identity, its characteristics, and its richness because of overwhelming borrowings or forced adoptions of odar words. Foreign words can drown the native language.

These ruminations were triggered by a recent letter from an Armenian intellectual to a Diaspora Armenian writer. The short letter had at least 13 foreign words—words which are a sad legacy of the Soviet era in Armenia. Such words as “insdidude”, “pizness”, “dourisd”, “chounklayin”, “olikakhner”, “monopolisdnere”, “penzeene”, “gongressagan”, “paleschchig” and “tekhnigagan” littered the letter. What made the usage even more deplorable was that we do have perfectly good Armenian words for the above abominations.

One could argue that the Republic of Armenia has more urgent matters on its plate than to mop up these non-Armenian words from our language. That kind of lazy and complacent attitude would assure the disappearance of the Armenian word and its permanent replacement by the foreign. Like our mountainous homeland, our language is one of our most distinctive possessions. Our religion is an import. Our alphabet is largely the reworking of the alphabets of neighbouring countries, adapted by Mashdots for the unique needs of our language.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, many Diaspora Armenians (perhaps those in Armenia, too) hoped that Soviet terminology would vanish together with the unwieldy, unrealistic political ideology. After years of hearing, in utter bafflement, on “Yerevann eh Khosoum”, such unArmenian and incompressible words as “Gomgous” “golkhoz” and “bardya”, we were hoping to hear Armenian from our motherland. We are still waiting.

  1. Shameful

    The writer is critical about the bastardised Armenian used in Armenia. I have noticed the same at a shameful level in the radio media where in Australia we get to hear reporters from Armenia using so many foreign words. It makes my hair stand on end.

    I am 50 years old, born in Ethiopia, studied in Italy as a Mekhitarian student, visited Armenia in 2001 and live in Melbourne, Australia. I say this to qualify what I am about to write related to this subject.

    Armenians in the Diaspora, living in Westernised society have visibly taken the path of Jermag Chart. Those in Africa and Asia seem to have more of a strength to preserve their identity – mainly because they consider themselves superior to the locals.

    In Armenia, I noticed a movement towards looking like Americans or Europeans. The youth seem to be more interested in Western culture than preserving their own. I don’t blame them. I blame the parents who give their children foreign names and instill in them the notion that Western is COOL. If this sentiment is cultured in Armenia, why should we be surprised at the language they use?


  2. Sad Scene to witness

    I live in Southern California, and specifically in the Glendale area where Armenians are plenty. One would expect that due to the large community, the Armenians preserve, promote and are proud of their heritage, language and culture. To a large extent, this is a misconception.

    Recently, while shopping at a store, I came across a mother with two children, one about a 4 years old boy and the other about a 2 years old girl. The boy was complaining to the mother that his sister was misbehaving, all in English, and the mother, who spoke broken English, was responding to the child, also in English. It was a sad scene to witness. It made me wonder; was the mother trying to learn English from her 4 year old, or trying to be cool? I couldn’t help but to tell the mother how disappointing it was to see an Armenian mother speak to her young children in an "odar’s" language.

    Our ancestors fought wars for years, and were killed by those who attempted to cleanse our race off this earth, not to mention their painstaking exiles through deserts, only to lead us to move to other’s countries and take on other identityIf we don’t commit to speaking Armenian to our children and teach them about who we are and what we stand for, who will? In this melting pot called the Western World, it is really easy to become part of the large society and only maintain a name ending with an "ian" or "yan". It is every parent’s responsibility to pass on, everything Armenian, to their child, or else, we will disappear as an ancient race, and our name will only be in history books.

  3. So how can one learn Armenian?

    I’m not sure how to respond to the article. The only Armenian education I got in Lebanon was in elementary school, and during the civil war in Lebanon, I was forced to continue at a non-Armenian school because most in my area closed; crossing the green line – with the daily risk of getting a sniper’s bullet – was a chance my parents did not wish to take.

    Now, after many years, I try to improve my Armenian language, but to no avail. There is NO book or program – in-class or on-line – specially prepared for adults. Registering at one such course was excruciatingly painful as I had to read about "Maralig and Arayig" or the fact that the teacher felt it was more important to know the word Arkayakhentsor than any other Armenian expression.

    As I did some more research into the matter – within my expertise as an educator and curriculum developer (but for English) – it turns out that we don’t even have proper books for our children to learn Armenian. The children in my family are enjoying French or English and even Arabic, but not the Armenian classes.

    Don’t blame those who don’t speak Armenian well. There is a deeply rooted problem in the education system itself that needs work, not patchwork style as has been done for the past 50-60 years.

    1. You can take  online Armenian

      You can take  online Armenian language, history, architecture courses on line in English,  Eastern Armenian or Western Armenian, French, Russian and Spanish at The Armenian Virtual College


      Good Luck

  4. Easier said than done

    In this age of globalisation, which includes cultural assault too, it has become all the more difficult to keep national identities. The Armenian Diaspora has become much more vulnerable. What’s bothering is the silence of the authorities in post-Soviet Armenia about this matter. It is almost incomprehensible. Many of the ills are incorrectly attributed to pre-"independence" regime. What about today? If the national government does not show leadership despite the attempts of intellectuals to redress matters, then how do they differ from buraucrats of the past who were a hindrance to ameliorating the situation?

    Allow me to digress when all ills are attributed to an "unwieldy, unrealistic political ideology". It was during the Soviet era after all that Armenian culture lived a new renaissance. Witness the many writers such as Shiraz, Kaputikyan, Charentz and Sevag… not to mention the exceptional ground-breaking works in music, painting and the performed arts. Where are those giants? In which period were they nurtured? Where are the various centres of science and their lost global stature such as Byurakan, the Alikhanyan Brothers, Mergelian Institute?

    Bureaucrats are the same in any regime, whether Soviet, capitalist or aligned with the Armenian oligarchs. The enemy is within.

    1. Պատարագը կարելի է պահել

      Պատարագը կարելի է պահել Գրաբար, սակայն մանկութենէն սորվեցնել լաւ հայերէն որպէսզի երբ մեծնայ սկսի նաեւ Գրաբարը Հասկնալ:

      Գալով աշխարհաբարի գործածութեան, այդ արդէն տեղի կ՛ունենայ քարոզին եւ Աստոածաշունչի ընթերցման մէջ:

  5. Asiga togh ulla mer nor darvah kordzu

    Abris krogh, abrik kroghner. Jhamanag@ yegav hayeren lezoun veraganknelou. Lezou sorvil@ meg oren chi’ullar. Asor masin hotouadz m@ ga voroun kroghin anounn e Jasmine Dum-Tragut. Vienna-yi hayeroun masin krer eh (Avstriayi). Heradesilkov hayeren sorvil@ GARELI eh. Angareli che. Yerekhan al medz mayrin kov@ togh mnah vor hayeren lseh. Kaghdnikner gan, yeghpayrner, kouyrer!

    Touk inchkan gu kordzdzek ankleren yerp vor hayereni masin gu khosik. Zarmanali eh. Ays tser kradzneru g’ouzem okordzadzel kal amouwa hamar (Aveli jisht pedrvarin) yerp menk – yes yev im kaghoutis hayer@ (manavant anonk voronk gu batganin Hamazkayin Grtagan yev
    Mshagoutagan kragan hantsnakhoumpin) bidi pats khoselou ASOULIS gam HARTSOUBADASKHANi jhoghov@ badrasdenk. Ays joghov@ bidi ullah pats yev voronk vor ouzen grnan kal, te Hay Parekordzagan Entanour Miyoutenen, te al Hay Hegh. Tashn-en.

    Hima, touk vor kankadetsak yev housahadouetsak, inch g’@sek? Anklerenov kretsi ays amen@ te voch hayerenov?

    Kaghoutis anoun@ shikago eh. Azad @zgatsek kalou. Trichk arek yev yegek. Pedrvar 7in eh, Giragi jham@ 1:00 in, badareken hedo.


    Hacho Dakarean

  6. Hayeren Khosink


    Please..all of you…. Our language will die in the diaspora in the next 100 years. It seems that nobody takes into consideration the pressure of social forces . The language  will survive  only in Armenia even if it is bastardised with many foreign words.

    History has shown that we Armenians thrive under political pressure, thus we stick to our language. Even before the genocide, most Armenians in the historical Armenia communicated in Turkish. How many of you had grand parents who did not speak Armenian but Turkish.? Because it was easier to live in their evironemet.

    It is very unfortunate that slogans like " heyeren khosink, hayeren gartank" will not hit its target. Whereever we are in the Western world our children will communicate in English, French, Dutch or German. The Armenian language will be practised among the elders and with elders..and once they are gone..guess what…..they will speak the local language among themselves.

    My hope is that even if they do not speak Armenian in 100 years in the Diaspora , at least they will have a modicum of "Armenianness" left in them.UNLESS…there is another war in the middle east and another wave of immigrants come to the western world just like it happened 30 years ago, thus replenishing the Western Armenian society…

    I whole heartedly agree to these slogans but as they say in Armenian " airatz srdi k… meghitarank"

    1. 100 years ago (hareur dari arach)

      Gesek vor hareur dari arach hayastani hayeroun shader@ trkerenov gu khoseyin. Ays polorovin skhal eh. Im medz mayrs yev medz hayrs voronk VANen eyin 100 ar hareur hayerenov gu khoseyin. Isk im hors dznoghk@, Tekir Daghen (Rodostoyen) yev Boursayen — anonk al
      Hayeren gu khoseyin.

      Yete medz hayrt yev medz mayrt Trkerenov gu khoseyin, tereves Giligetsi eyin.

      It is simply not true to say most Armenians spokeTurkish. Most spoke ARMENIAN. My mother learned Turkish in Iraq from Turkomans. Her grandparents in Van spoke Kurdish and Armenian fluently, but not Turkish.

      They even had a printing press in Van. It is our homeland and our central city. Van and Gyumri (all Vanetsies) are the purest Armenian speakers according to linguist expert Bert Vaux.

      Shnorhagalouteun. Housahad mi ullar.  Loudzeh. Mi housahadvir.

      Hayakhos yev Hayaser

        1. Maral@ amenen lav fonten eh

          Jhamanag chounim yergou jham hayeren dareroun degher@ pndrdelou, shnorhagal yem, keyboardin vra. Maral fonten zad, amennal kharnouadz en, yev shader@ chounin maral font@.

          Hayeren gar mesrob mashdotsen arach.

          Hagop Dilachar Martaian@ latinagan darer@ pokhets yev shdgets Terkeren lezvin hamar.
          grnam kordzadzel latinagan aypoupen@ yev gam mesrobian@.

          Hayeren@ hayeren eh.

          Adelouteun@ hanetsek tser sirderen.

          Haygagan lezoun aveli garevor eh 100 ar hareur kan te MESROBIAN kirer@.

  7. Երազատես

    Western Armenian is about to disappear and find its eternal peace next to Krapar if nothing is done soon. Who is responsible? I would say most of us are, half victim half accomplice as the saying goes. For decades, Armenians have been supporting an antiquated church, partisan gazetecis, and a mostly substandard and politicized school system in the Diaspora.

    So, what can then we do? As individuals, we can all start by supporting the Armenian book. Buy Tintin in Armenian to your children along with its English, French or Spanish version. Support independent publishers who against all odds are trying to publish in Armenian. Example, order Zahrad’s poems or Zaven Biberyan’s masterpiece novel (Մրջիւններու Վերջալոյսը) from Aras yayincilik in Bolis. 

    But we all know that this will not be enough. Much more must be done. Armenian courses in each community, an independent publishing house to publish Armenian classics, supporting translations into Armenian, literary classes, scholarships to deserving individuals and not necessarily to those with connections. Where would the money come from you say? The answer is simple. We need to prioritise.

    I can give you one example that comes to my mind. Imagine if we can stop building new churches, especially in communities where there are a few empty ones. Ask yourself, do I need a new church in Laval, while within 5-10 minutes drive I can cross to Montreal, where there are 3-4 empty ones standing by? With the money saved, who knows, we may even have enough to feed some of the estimated 30% Armenian children going to school hungry each morning. 

    Let me finish by quoting K. Zohrab, from an article Համալսարանական Կրթութեան Պակասութիւնը Մեր Մէջ that he published in 1892.

    «Գլխաւոր բանը որ կը պակսի մեզի, մեր յետամնացութեան աստիճանին վրայ ճշմարիտ գիտակցութիւնն է։

    I guess what was true then, a hundred and so years later is still true today.

    Վարուժան  Պալթազար



  8. Hayerení Masin
    Harkeli Engerner,

    Entanahrabes Haskenaliye vor medzavmasamp hayereh makur hayeren chen ghosir payz da chi neshanageh vor ches gernar shetkel.

    Uremen nrank ovker vor irents hayeren lezoun, gouzen shetkel, 
    genaghendrem irents vor gartan ev pararan kordzadzen, portsek astvadza-shunche gartak, portsek ardasanutyuner gartak yete megge ir inzinken ays kayle charne, ayd aden westahapar ir zawakneroun hayerene aveli yev aveli irme vadeh bidi ella.

    Payz naghkan ays kayle arnes bidi toun voroshes iper hay te toun inch gouzes?

    Gouzes arvelyan hayeren ghosis gam gouzes Arevmedyan hayeren ghosis, arachin ays worushume bidi arnes vor yegrort seghale norits chenes yev turkerene gharnes hayereni hed gam araperene, arevlyan hayereneh gharnes ku endrats hayereni hed, vor ayd aden toun hebard ellas ku hayeren lezouyoved, yev jhist djampan sorwetsnes ku zawaknerid.

    Minchev aytsegh gehuysam haskenali ella.


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